Thursday, March 20, 2014


i thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.  and i am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. it is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace...  ~philippians 1:3-7

it's just hard being in a new place.  

there's nothing profoundly mysterious about that, is there?  
new is a lot of things, including:
challenging, exhausting, uncomfortable.  
refreshing, reviving, exhilarating.  
new is wide-open opportunity and suffocating unfamiliarity.
it is beautiful and terrifying.

i'm not sure if it's the new that is hard, or the presence of old (restful, familiar, warm) that makes forging ahead difficult.  after all, wouldn't new be all wonderful if you were leaving something awful? 

we didn't leave awful.  we left wonderful, knowing full well that we were heading in the right direction.  there's a peace in that... but peaceful does not equal easy.  it can be tough to walk in the right direction, even painful. when our direction is away from good, it sometimes doesn't matter that it is also towards a new good.  

so yes- new place.  hard.
missing the friends who are our family.  crazy hard.
missing easy presence- the effortless place where we know and are known.  
achingly hard.

but there is so much hope in the hard.


if we had never had the good... 
the friendships that relentlessly poured grace and love into our insecurity and filled us to overflowing; 
the church that brokenly and beautifully sought Jesus and our community;  
the city that gave us freedom to explore and enjoy and fall in love with its people.
if we had never experienced that kind of good, would we know to miss it?  look for it?  ask for it, work to find it in our new place?

if we hadn't had the good, we wouldn't have so much hope of it here.  
wouldn't long for it in ways that drive us to fling open our doors and invite others inside.  
wouldn't thirst for it enough to run around this new place- seeking, asking, knocking.

but we did, and we do- so much hope for the friends and love in this place
this new city, this new church, these new friends.

and hope in the midst of hard is enough.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

because it feels good

we went to the Connecticut Science Center last weekend with a precious new friend. (thank you, natalia- we loved it, and we love you!)

caroline immediately took natalia's hand and explored (and loved) nearly every inch of the 6 story building.

julia and i? no, we stayed in one room and did very little adventuring.
i sat in one place for most of the 2 1/2 hours we were there.  i did a 93% good job of being present, staying off my phone, watching my girl, and enjoying her as she enjoyed the exhibit.  julia stayed at the water table area for all but 30 minutes of our visit- mesmerized by every part of it.  no, mostly mesmerized by ONE part of it:  a sort of lazy river for small plastic balls that then shoots them several feet in the air on a vertical stream of water.  the ball ends in a large transparent whirlpool that pulls it back to the lazy river... over and over again. 

what is more engaging than an endless cycle of water and motion?

there are roughly 30 multicolor balls in this interactive exhibit.  children can touch the water, splash the balls around, move them to different parts of the feature, watch them go up, down and around... it truly hits every one of their senses.  (yup- taste, too.  you don't think those kiddos put their mouths on everything?)

julia did all of this, but she also hopped, danced, bounced, waved her arms, clapped.  we call this 'stimming,' short for self-stimulation.  often julia's stimming involves galloping or skipping across a room, usually on a diagonal line- corner to corner.  occasionally it is more recognizable as an autistic trait- hand and arm flapping, turning in circles, but it mostly looks like this:

a young child having a wonderful time, expressing her joy in motion.  
she is happy, and it feels good to bounce. clap. twirl. gallop. dance.

we asked our first occupational therapist about this, way back at the beginning of our journey- why does she always throw things?  
why is she always always always moving?

her answer:  because it feels better to throw and move than to be still.

and it really is that simple.

just like the water exhibit, julia is an endless cycle of motion and emotion. 

being in motion helps her to filter, sort, and understand her emotions.
some say that we need to teach her better coping behaviors- coach her towards more socially acceptable self-soothing.

but as i look at her today?  
bouncing, smiling, laughing, galloping... 
doing what feels good and makes her feel happy?   
i don't really think so. 
no thanks.

(clearly i'm not advocating free reign to do whatever feels good no matter the cost... 
YOLO & whatnot.  you understand?)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

good things

1.  our home gets lovely natural light, as well as large patches of warm sunlight in many rooms.  our dog and cat shift from room to room throughout the day, following the sunspots and letting the heat penetrate their weary, old bones.

2.  there was enough coffee left in the pot to make a perfect noon pick me up cup- not so much that i'll never fall asleep this evening, but just the right amount to warm my hands and keep me from eating the chocolate peanut butter cups (with sea salt) i've made for our guests.  

3. there is plenty of chocolate almond milk to make that little cup perfectly decadent.  i don't need a peanut butter cup.  i don't.  no, i'm fine.

4.  the corner of the living room in front of me looks exactly the way i want it- if i sit here, i can forget that it is the only place in my home i've completed the decor.

5. caroline's eighth birthday is this week, and i believe she will be so pleased with her gifts- this is not an extraordinary thing, but a good thing.  it means she won't be overwhelmed with so much 'stuff' that she forgets to be thankful and enjoy each gift thoroughly.  too many gifts are not as good as just a few good gifts.

6.  caroline is turning 8.  the baby girl that made me a mama- the one who arrived so quickly and violently, then slowly and persistently changed me to the core.  the one who asks the deepest, hardest questions, then follows them with silly giggles and the fleeting attention span of a little girl.  the one who has shown me definitively that raising a child to be a grown up person is the hardest thing in the world.  love is vastly different than i ever expected.

7. almost every person who has visited our home has brought a plant or flower of some kind... there is green and blooming life in each room, and i love it.

8.  there is not a mouse in my living room, although it sounds exactly like a teeny little mouseling when the wind blows the tree branches against the bay window.

9.  i love having a bay window again- this home reminds me of the first home we owned on Holly Drive, with it's bay window and divided light panes.

10.  matt is wandering the property... praying, meditating, thinking, possibly smoking a cigar?, and practicing for his sermon tomorrow.  that's just a good thing- no explanation needed. 

i think i *may* need a peanut butter cup.  just one. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

dreaming and running

there's this question that has me thinking... doing a little more dreaming, asking, praying, listening than usual.  it's all Jennie Allen's fault, really.  she just keeps writing these books that open these big honkin' cans of worms and now the worms are everywhere so i have to deal with them.  gross.

in Restless, she asks 'what stops you from dreaming, from running full steam ahead after your dreams?'  

well crap. more specifically:  worm crap.  everywhere.

because i've been walking towards this question for a while.  it seems that turning 35 and leaving the city i've lived in for the first decade of married life has spawned something of a midlife 'crisis.'  
who am i if my kids are in school and i don't have a job?
what do i do with wide open space: time, resources, gifts, skills?
where do i begin to figure out my purpose?
i do have a purpose, don't i?  doesn't everyone?

and when you open up that question- does my life have a purpose-  you arrive at one of 3 conclusions (with thanks to Rebekah Lyons for giving these categories):  
1.  no. my life has no purpose- God did not intend for me to do anything that matters with my time on earth.  
2. yes, my life could have a purpose, but i may never know what it is or be able to fulfill it in the years i have before me.
3.  yes.  God created me to have a purpose.  my life has meaning beyond just  breathing & eating, and i have all the tools i need to accomplish His plan for today somewhere within me, readily available.  tomorrow's plan may require different tools, and they will be there when i need them.
(just in case you're wondering, i'm calling BS on #1 and #2).

in Restless, Jennie Allen says it this way, "Without some effort, we will waste our minutes, our days... our lives. So putting thought into spending our time and resources for the glory of God may be the most important thing we can do.  Think of it this way:
God's story + my materials + need + the Holy Spirit = my purpose."

hence the dreaming... what needs do i see?  how do i feel about them?  do i have a role in meeting them?  what is stopping me from jumping in- running 'full steam ahead?'

what is stopping me from dreaming and running?
100 things.  i won't list all 100. phew.

~my girls~
sadly, i use my kids as an excuse to sit on the sideline while the runners complete their race.  sometimes it's necessary to pull over;  they need my attention, my focus, and my energy.  but let's be honest:  my daughters need to see me dreaming and running my race, not hiding behind them.  they are not a hindrance to my life's purpose. kids are not speed bumps, not hurdles to get past.  they are a part of my race, and they are supposed to come along with me.  how else will they learn to run?

~my marriage~
somewhere i picked up some funny notions of what it means to be a pastor's wife- i don't even have the words now to really unpack this.  just that it means things that i am not and may not ever be, if that makes sense.  so in order to fill this 'role'  (as if it has one definition), i cannot really be me or have my own purpose outside of his calling to lead and shepherd our church.  huh... i'm picking up on this for the first time, so excuse my confusion.  seems like i'll need to return to this one at some point?  i'd rather shove this particular worm back in the can.

oh insecurity.  we studied this, didn't we friends?  i'm done with it- i'm secure now.  i know who i am because i know who God is and i no longer struggle with how others perceive me!  (again, let's call BS).  i still worry that if i put myself forward, i'll be perceived as prideful or arrogant, thinking too much of myself.

or that i'll actually BE prideful and arrogant and think too much of myself!  what is my motive for wanting to run this race?  am i seeking to raise up the Lord and point others to Him, or am i hoping they'll look at me and think i'm awesome?

~false humility~
i usually apologize for being good at anything.  where does that come from?! 
is it being Southern?  or a woman?  or a good little Christian woman?  or a Southern Christian Woman?  just human?  it's this funny take on humility- don't actually DO anything because that would be prideful.  drop my dreams and gifts out the back door because if i take them up and use them, i'm arrogant.  this can not be true... God doesn't give me gifts to see me blush and pass myself off as demure and humble.  humility is when i USE my gifts and am thankful to God for giving them, yes?  

i'll screw something up royally because i am wrong- this is not what i'm actually supposed to be doing. or i'm not strong enough to persevere when it gets sticky... or i'll step on someone's toes, and then there's conflict and i'm afraid of conflict... 
or...  or... or...
all those 'or' fears start to pile up after a while.

~and this nameless thing~
it may be fear, it may be insecurity... but what if my purpose is very very small? i don't long for fame or notoriety (i'd be a pathetic celebrity), but i think i do expect 'purpose' to mean impact.  if i run hard enough, i should create 
a little breeze, right?  when you open yourself to God's purpose, He accomplishes things- He changes you & your future changes.  but what if that thing He wants to accomplish in me is very tiny?  maybe this is comparison- the thief of joy. maybe comparison is also the thief of dreaming toward my purpose?

darn it, Jennie Allen.  stop spilling worms everywhere.  it's so messy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

maybe... thoughts on an unscheduled afternoon

maybe i'll fold the 4 baskets of laundry sitting behind me.

maybe i'll wash that sticky spot on the table that's been driving me bonkers- what is that?!  honey?  jam?  maybe i don't want to know.

maybe i'll make an appointment for a haircut for which i am at least 8 weeks beyond desperately overdue.

maybe i'll take a shower- that is also overdue, but not quite 8 weeks.

maybe i'll look into what the library does with overdue book fines when you move 1000 miles away- do they accumulate indefinitely?  will i be arrested for a 10 cent fine from 3 months ago?  maybe not.

maybe i'll finish hanging the pictures in julia's room so i can take the hammer & toolbox off her dresser.  they do clash with her current decor.

maybe i'll find the craft supplies i want for my IF:Table dinner on Sunday (so excited about this- you should totally do it).

maybe i'll scrub the grout on the kitchen floor (i discovered that it's actually white grout, so the fact that it is BLACK is pretty much killing me now).

maybe i'll get to work setting up the guest room for our first guests at the end of the month- seriously giddy about this visit!!  and caroline would be pleased to no longer have a queen size mattress on the floor of her bedroom.

maybe i'll finish one of the 8 books i'm currently in the middle of reading- or maybe i'll just start another one, too.

maybe i'll figure out how to Instagram. it's still culturally relevant, yes?

maybe i'll meditate, ponder, sit in silence, listen, abide in the uncomfortable tension of the first day of Lent and my limited grasp of what it means to remember Jesus' love and death.

maybe i'll watch Bones on Netflix.

maybe i should definitely shower- i think that's me i'm smelling.

or maybe i'll resurrect a blog i haven't written on in almost 4 years... my husband will be pleased.